Techniques for Discovering, Building and Communicating Differentiation. A Primer for Small Consulting Practices to Gain Clients
The consulting profession plays a critical role in the life of all businesses. While some small consultants join large established firms, most join smaller firms or start their own businesses. In these roles, they operate in a small business setting where the primary challenge is to gain clients by demonstrated differentiation from competitive alternatives.
A clear understanding of one’s differentiated value is the bedrock of a sales and marketing strategy. For example, a small consulting practice that believes it can efficiently do HR is going to have a very different strategy as opposed to someone focused on PR. However, clearly defining the differentiated value and communicating it effectively (especially on the Internet) is a non-trivial task. This issue is especially exacerbated by the expense of building and updating marketing communication vehicles such as websites.
However, if a small consulting practice uses a state-of-the-art Internet platform such as Ocoos, it can build an iterative learning process for discovering, building, and communicating a differentiated value statement. Here is how it works:
- Build an initial view of the differentiated value of your company:
- Write it down in a way to communicate to potential client.
- Think about your proof points for building credibility.
- Identify competitive alternatives and answers to customer concerns.
- Identify 3-5 example customers in the market segment of interest.
- Build a website that communicates your initial point-of-view while respecting the rules of the Bar. In a platform such as Ocoos, this will take 5-10 mins.
- Build a small survey in the platform (5-10 mins within Ocoos), which asks the consumers specific questions:
- Do they gain a clear understanding of your offering from the website?
- Do they understand your unique differentiation?
- Do they find the information credible? If not, what sort of information would convince them?
- What impediments--if any--exist to keep them from moving forward to a buying decision?
- Run this survey with your example customers and gather feedback.
- Iterate on steps 1-4 until you have settled in on your unique differentiation point, as well as focused on the market segment for which you are the obvious choice.
Once you have settled into a core strategy, the next step is to amplify your offering. How do you do that on the internet? The short answer is to build content around your core points of differentiation, establishing yourself as a “thought leader.” The longer answer will be in our next article (ptr to techniques/virtual communities).
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